As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, CASA of Warren and Forest Counties’ primary concern remains to ensure the well-being of the children and families. National CASA/GAL requires volunteers to visit the child in-person once every 30 days at a minimum. For any child who cannot be visited in-person during this time, we are documenting the exception in compliance with National CASA/GAL’s standard and will continue with ongoing communications on ways to connect with the children in another fashion such as video visits, phone calls, and cards and letters.
We are in communication with PA CASA, our local court, and Children and Youth agency to guide our protocol during this time as it relates to handling visits with children and families.
We will continue to adapt and be responsive as information from the CDC, the Governor of Pennsylvania, our local court, and Children and Youth agency is updated. We won’t stop our advocacy initiative to ensure children are safe during this time.
Here are the steps we are taking to keep our staff, volunteers, and the children we advocate for as safe as possible while also fulfilling the CASA mission:
Please note that an increase in infection rates can result in a change of status and associated guidelines.
- Every effort will be made to ensure that our children are safe and thriving in their environment. The relationship between the volunteer and the child shall be maintained as we move forward. In the event that concern arises regarding a CASA child, the volunteer shall consult with the CASA staff as well as the appropriate authority. Volunteers are trained to report any incident of child abuse or neglect, or any situation in which the CASA volunteer has reason to believe that a child is in imminent danger to the appropriate authorities and CASA supervisory staff.
- Volunteers who feel safe in conducting in-person visits will do so in consultation with CASA staff. Volunteers who do not feel safe to conduct an in-person visit will notify CASA staff so a staff member arranges to go see the child. Safety measures must be maintained by:
- Practicing social distancing
- Everyone must wear a mask
- Visits shall occur outside in an open space when at all possible
- Ongoing communication and decisions regarding cases will be conducted on an individual case basis. Volunteers will ensure that their CASA child continues to receive the court's recommended services on a consistent basis and will continue to participate in meetings and hearings either in person or virtually. Some things that we consider when assessing conducting an in-person visit:
- There is a concern regarding the child that cannot be assessed virtually.
- The ability of other providers to conduct visits.
- The health of the volunteer advocate.
- The health of the child and the child's caretaker(s).
COVID-19 has made it more challenging for CASA volunteers to assess each child’s safety and wellbeing and navigate through these uncertain times. As schools and many community activities temporarily stop, many children have and will spend more time alone, stressed, or even burdened by added financial strain their families will endure. The need for CASA advocacy is more important than ever. Our CASA volunteers continue to strive to be a source of stability for children and families during this heightened time of stress and crisis. We are committed to remaining that constant in a child’s life. The needs of children won’t go away, and CASA is here to elevate their voices and make sure they are heard.
If you are wondering how you can help during this time, please consider volunteering your time or donating.
Take action and stand with children and families during COVID-19.